Interactive Intelligence, Inc. is a global provider of contact center, unified communications, and business process automation software and services designed to improve the customer experience. Their IP business communications solutions, which can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises, unify every aspect of contact center and enterprise interactions for reduced costs, simplified management, and improved customer service.
Skytap Cloud enabled the education department at Interactive Intelligence to eliminate the time-consuming hassle, cost, and inefficiency of building out and shipping physical servers used for the company’s training classes. By utilizing Skytap Cloud, Interactive Intelligence’s instructors were not only able to triple the number of remote classroom and web training offerings, they were able to reduce their setup time from days to only minutes.
Interactive Intelligence ‘s education department moved all training system environments to Skytap Cloud, including existing learning management and certification tools, and used the cloud to expand global on-demand, availability of their services. Instructional designers can rapidly build training courseware in Skytap Cloud environments, while instructors and students can leverage self-service, web-based offerings and mobile, on-site training classes.
- Reduced classroom setup time from 2 days to less than an hour. Changes to existing classrooms can be made in seconds.
- Increased security and isolation since students access unique cloud environments, and not a central server.
- Dramatically reduced travel costs and eliminated the need to ship physical servers for an immediate cost reduction of $3000 or more per remote class delivery.
Interactive Intelligence provides a variety of training options for their wide range of contact center and business software. But until a few years ago, the education department was struggling to accommodate the amount of business coming their way, and they needed to find new ways of remaining competitive in a changing economy.
With shipping and transportation costs increasing for customers, instructors, and physical hardware, reaching a wider and global audience was impossible. Bandwidth and latency issues restricted instructors only to provide training to twelve US students at a time per classroom environment, and the education department often found itself running at or over capacity.
Interactive Intelligence felt another pain point familiar to many in today’s software technology field. In order to scale their business, Interactive Intelligence would need to purchase additional servers and manually provision each environment. The dramatic increase in capital and operational expenses to scale would be even more detrimental than maintaining the pace of innovation.
Manager of Instruction Marianne Desjardins explained that her department wanted to expand their offerings, but they just couldn’t scale. “We had a need to reach more customers, but we couldn’t. We were limited by server capacity, manual setup time, and their physical location. It would
take us, on average, two days of setup per class. There was a solid 16 hours of work just to get one class operational.“
When the mounting limitations of their hardware began to impact the amount of business that Interactive Intelligence could service, Marianne and her management team knew that an alternative approach to training was necessary. They had considered leveraging the cloud, but were unsure if it could offer the security, and functionality that they needed for their unique offerings.
As Interactive Intelligence began looking for a solution to their issues with scaling their training business, they turned to the cloud to see if they could find a fit for their needs. One product that the company sells is a telephone system for getting devices to work in remote situations. Desjardins explains:
I’m teaching a student that is anywhere that I am not, where the server is not, trying to get the audio to pass through a remote connection was something we really played with a lot, and we were unsure that the cloud would support that, or at all.
Another area that needed thorough examination and testing was providing oversight of the company’s certification course offerings. Being able to conduct a class remotely was great, but how do you monitor and enforce that students are taking these courses without any unfair assistance from their peers or materials that are not allowed during the examination?
Solution While doing the due diligence for her company to decide on which cloud services provider to go with, Desjardins recalls that there were numerous options to choose from, especially in the area of training. What ultimately led to choosing Skytap was the customer service, support, and the ability to test their numerous offerings fully before ever signing a contract.
Says Desjardins, “Skytap allowed me to test in order to validate my scenarios before purchasing—and that was huge for us. We needed full validation that we could pass audio through a remote desktop link before we could take that next step.”
As for the need for oversight over the administration of certification level exams, Skytap enabled the elimination of costly, time-consuming, and potential bias that comes from instructors being required to manage exams on the last day of a class. This previous requirement made some exams not legally defensible.
While many competitors required students to travel to physical, exam testing centers, Interactive Intelligence’s seamless operation with Skytap enabled their students to log in, access an environment, and take a proctored exam. These remote exams save both the students, and Interactive Intelligence money on travel and shipping, and allow for an even larger, and more flexible global footprint.
Skytap’s impact on the education department at Interactive Intelligence to scale their business was realized on day one. From the immediate reduction of the need for the company’s own instructors and their students to travel, along with the cost and lengthy wait times associated with the shipping of critical hardware, the cloud provided many of the advantages that Interactive Intelligence needed to remain competitive in their field.
The Addition of Mobile, On-site Training
Mobile on-site training can be held at a customer site in order to truly create an authentic classroom environment. It provides the ability to add quickly and remove students and manage the entire classroom. What used to require thousands of dollars in shipping costs, and days of manual setup time, can now be built in minutes.
Added Security Discovered in the Cloud
As the security concerns in the cloud lessen each year with its wider usage by major enterprises around the globe, Interactive Intelligence actually found that the cloud provided them with more security than they’d had working with in-house, physical servers.
Since Skytap doesn’t sit in Interactive Intelligence’s network, no one has to worry about unauthorized access to the company’s network or their equipment. Students can be sent an RDP link or URL and they’re accessing the cloud, not Interactive Intelligence. The reduction of the company’s fears of security breaches have made their products even more flexible as they can be used by anyone, anytime, and from anywhere.